Cork City get back on track against Finn Harps
Premier division title creeps closer thanks to Gary Buckley’s later winner in Ballybofey
Gary Buckley scored Cork City’s winner against Finn Harps. Photograph: John McVitty/Inpho
Cork City continue to edge towards the Airtricity League Premier Division title but they had to work hard before finally seeing off a battling relegation-threatened Finn Harps at a damp Finn Park.
Gary Buckley finally broke the deadlock in the 70 minute to set City on the road to their 13th away league win in 14 outings this season.
The Leesiders are now 17 points ahead of Dundalk with seven games to play.
City, who were shocked by that home defeat against Sligo on Friday, peppered the Harps goal and really should have wrapped the game up in the first half.
But the battling Donegal side, who haven’t beaten Cork since returning to the Premier Division, provided stubborn resistance.
Cork showed their intentions from early on as Kieran Sadlier wormed his way into the Harps box and crossed, forcing Ciaran Gallagher into making an important intervention. Karl Sheppard then headed over as he met a Sadlier cross.
However, Harps - who were thumped 4-0 by St. Patrick’s Athletic last Friday night - then settled and briefly played some neat football with Paddy McCourt, back from suspension, a pivotal figure as always.
Sadlier, increasingly to the fore, then went close to giving City the lead as he controlled the ball well before unleashing a cracking low drive that spun just outside Gallagher’s post on 21 minutes.
Moments later, Sadlier skipped down the left flank and whipped in a ball for Sheppard whose near post flick was gathered by the increasingly overworked Gallagher.
The second half saw fewer goalscoring opportunities. Shane Griffin, Sheppard and Sadlier all worried Harps before Cork eventually broke the deadlock on 70 minutes, when Buckley pounced from close range to stab the ball home for what turned out to be the winner after Ryan Delaney’s initial effort had come back off the post.
Sadlier and substitute Connor Ellis were both denied by Gallagher and Buckley missed a fine chance to double the tally in the closing stages.
Finn Harps: Gallagher; Cantwell, McNulty, Coll; Boyle, McBride (Bonner, 87 mins), McCourt, Timlin (Millien, 80 mins), Harkin; Houston; Morrissey (Keita, 62 mins).
Cork City: McNulty; Beattie, Bennett, Delaney, Griffin; Morrissey; Keohane, McCormack, Buckley, Sadlier (Ellis, 88 mins); Sheppard.
Referee: Mr. P. Tuite (Dublin).